Our Top Local SEO Tips To Help You Win This Year.
Trying to get your business more visibility in local search results? Not quite sure where to focus your energy? Here are 5 incredibly effective and simple tactics to give you an edge in your local SEO in 2018.
I’ve written this guide specifically for business owners, managers and traditional marketers (working for a client) that realistically do not have the skill set or time to put towards figuring out complex SEO techniques.
If you had that know how you probably wouldn’t be searching the web for answers.
The majority of articles out there on local SEO or general SEO tips go into highly nuanced or time-consuming techniques: keyword research, rich snippets, competitive analysis, create an infographic… the list goes on.
Now, before I get ahead of myself, 100% these are some of those most powerful and important things you would want to focus on if you had the time, money and expertise to do them effectively and consistently.
To give it to you straight up: if you’re in a position to hire an agency or freelance digital marketer that knows their way around SEO and can work on these more advanced tactics for you- make the investment. It’s worth it.
Because quite honestly your top competitors already have and it’s one of the best places to put your marketing dollars. If you’re looking for a trustworthy SEO company to help you get the results you deserve we’d love to talk to you.
Until then, dive in and get yourself better positioned in your local search results with our top 5 SEO tactics.
In this post, we serve up 5 tips for improving your Local SEO in 2018.
1. Nail the basics: Google My Business Page & Citations.
2. Laser-Focus your Social Media Engagement.
3. Frequently update your GMB Page, Pictures/Posts/Offers.
4. Get and Maintain Online Reviews.
5. Optimize Your Website for Local Search (basics only).
Not a daunting list, right? But, if you’re having thoughts of putting this off, here are some stats that should get you fired up about how you can get your local SEO in shape this coming year.
- 56% of “On The Go” searches have local intent.
- 78% of local mobile searches resulted in an offline purchase, usually in a few hours.
- SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate compared to outbound marketing leads at 1.7% (print etc.)
- 80-90% of shoppers read online reviews before buying a product.
- Average time spent on a search session is less than 1 minute long.
- 93% of all web traffic comes from a search engine, 63% of that is from Google.
- 60% of clicks go to the top 3 websites in search engine listings.
- 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines. Let’s read that line again.
- 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines!
Whew! Let’s go get a bigger piece of the action, shall we!
1. Fundamentals. Google My Business, NAP, Citations.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
I am going to assume you’ve already claimed your GMB (Google My Business page), if not then I suggest going over to GYOB.com which is Google’s Get Your Business Online resource. Once you’ve completed that set up, download the GMB App to your mobile so you can keep your business profile fresh and up-to-date.
Here is our checklist of items to refresh on your GMB on a semi-regular basis:
- Photos: Interior, exterior, team & candids (show your company’s personality).
- Hours: Make sure they are accurate and set up holiday hours to avoid confusion/disappointment.
- Reply to all reviews, the good and the bad. See more in section 5.
While you’re at it, go log in to Facebook and set up your Facebook Places listing. At a minimum, you want to do this so customers can check-in to your business.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
This is pretty straightforward but easy to overlook. We are currently updating our NAP listings in various directories as we’ve moved to a new office in NYC’s Financial District, in our case we’ve got to go through and update our existing listings.
First, you want to make sure your business name, address, and phone number are listed on your website, typically in the footer.
Then you’re going to check all the places and profiles your business is listed currently and make sure it’s an exact match.
You may have had a number of different staff add to the business listings over time, so it’s a good practice to do a manual search and note all the places where your business comes up and correct them if need be.
If you really want to learn more about why NAP and Citations are important for local SEO head on over to Moz and check out their article.
There they give an in-depth rundown whereas I want to keep things light and actionable for you here.
Now that your current listings are up to date, it’s time to build citations for your business. I recommend you focus on these main data aggregators & directories:
The Big 4 Data Aggregators:
Key Directories: This is dependent upon your industry, your niche and where your competitors are showing up. A good place to start is with directories like Yelp, TravelAdvisor, MapQuest, YellowPages, CitySearch, Yahoo and EzLocal.
If you don’t have a lot of time to do the research I would recommend hitting those to start with and, again, make sure the information listed is an exact match.
They will send you an urgent message that your business listings are not up-to-date, and they can take care of all of them for a fee.
While this is true, often it’s pay to play and once your subscription runs out you may see these listings disappear. Not cool right?!
The other note about those services is that a fair number of those listings are redundant, the major search engines pull data from the top data aggregators we mentioned, which is why we recommend focusing on niche listings that matter to your community.
There are an overwhelming amount of listings, so pick your battles.
2. Laser-Focused Social Media Engagement
Google has stated that they do not consider social media interactions when calculating web page rankings. However, there is evidence that social signals do play a roll in increasing visibility.
What’s important for our focus is the prominence of a business, which is a local search ranking factor.
First order of business, identifying the Social Media channel or channels that are relevant to your customers.
Don’t get caught in the game of trying to be active on every social platform you see your competitors on, or that someone suggested you should jump on because it will change your business. Chances are, it won’t.
A good place to start when determining which are the right channels for you to use:
- Brandwatch offers a helpful guide which lists statistics on social audiences per industry.
- Survey your customers, which you can do via email or in person at check out.
- Also select a platform that you are comfortable with, that you know you can commit to updating with fresh content. If you like taking videos then: YouTube, Facebook (live) or Instagram (stories) are likely a good fit.
Next, these tips will help you optimize your social content for your local audience:
- Use Keywords. Within the title of your social media profiles.
- Use Hashtags. Don’t overdo it, less is more. Think of hashtags as keywords with a # sign in front.
- Post Events. Find local groups on the platforms to share your event, email it out to your customer base. Capture some footage (video, photo etc.) at the event and tag customers and staff to broaden your reach. If possible get other local businesses involved in the event, you’ll widen your audience and create some cross promotion. Just don’t forget to tag them in your posts.
- Encourage Content. From your customers and staff. Look to get people to help create content for your brand (of course, when there is some incentive it’s always easier to get people involved). Create a contest or rewards program.
- GeoTag Images. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook enable a geotag when you upload a photo, include the address and business name when you do this to increase your reach.
Finally, link your social accounts so you can cross-post, which will save you a ton of time and allow you to post quality content on multiple channels with an extra thumb click or two.
3. Frequently Update Your Google My Business Page.
I covered getting this page set up, but keeping it fresh and updating your GMB page consistently deserved its own section. Often once brands set up their page, they set it and forget it.
You’ve really got to treat this profile like you would your other social profiles, only in this case the content you post has to be a little more selective and the frequency not as high.
What’s important to note is that people who are landing on your Google Business page had intent, they were searching for something related to your business and they found you! This is notably different than social media where your posts end up in a user feed and they have no interest in your product or service.
Here is a short list of the items to keep up-to-date and the features to take advantage of:
Google has a feature which is currently free, where you can post an update to your profile. This can be an event, an offer or a special.
It’s incredibly easy to use and you can add a call-to-action button, prompting the user to Book, Sign Up, Learn More and even Buy Now. The post will stay up for 7 days.
For example, a local hair salon might post a 15% discount on a cut and color service. If someone is searching for a salon near them and one has an offer while the other does not, who do you think wins?
This is what it will look like in your dashboard:
This is how it will display in Google Search, we are going to adjust the next one so the discount is the first thing to appear in the box as well as select a brighter image.
There are six categories of photos on your GMB page and it’s important to carefully select these images and whenever possible refresh them. They make it really easy to update these from the app, the options are:
- Identity (branding)
- Photos at Work
- Team Photos
- Additional Photos
Like with all things Google, they will give preference to the GMB that indicates that it has a current, active and completed profile. Google’s goal is to deliver the page that has the highest chance of meeting the search inquiry.
The big take away key here is for you to indicate that you’re engaged with your audience.
4. Online Reviews
Reviews are one of the most important elements of your online presence. Here are a few ways to effectively capture positive reviews within the GMB guidelines, and while you’re at it don’t forget about Yelp.
There are a number of factors that Google uses to weigh reviews with regards to how they impact your ranking in the local GMB pack (the first 3 results they show). The top factors are:
- Total GMB Reviews
- Total Reviews With Keyword
- Total Reviews With City Listed
- Total Avg. Monthly Reviews
- Total Avg. Yearly Reviews
- Reviews Not Responded To
These stats are to drive home just how powerful they are:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 72% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 68% of consumers go to social networking sites to read product reviews.
- Every one-star increase in a Yelp rating means a 5-9% increase in revenue.
Yelp has a strict no solicitation policy when it comes to reviews so our advice here is to deliver outstanding service, go above and beyond, and look to be the best in class in your industry. Happy customers will inevitably write happy reviews.
Google is more flexible and we highly recommend that you make getting customer feedback part of every sales/client facing interaction that you and/or your staff have.
Here are a few of our preferred methods for you to put into action, along with some tips that raise the likelihood of success:
Follow Up Call / Survey / Email
A client care follow up call, short survey and (upon customer approval) email the client with a link to your GMB page making it easy for them to leave their feedback.
This also gives you the advantage of screening potentially negative reviews before they make it online and allows you the opportunity to remedy the situation and ultimately satisfy your client.
Pro Tip: Having a question as your email title will increase your chances (a question other than please leave us a review).
I’m going to be captain obvious here and tell you the best way to get reviews from your customers is to just ask.
The hard part is having this become standard practice in your organization and part of your culture.
An easy way to do this is to start with when a customer compliments you on your product or service you or your staff should immediately act on that prompt and ask if the customer wouldn’t mind sharing that review on your GMB profile.
Make it part of your employee training and handbook.
You have to make it easy for your customers to leave you a review so place links in your email signature, social profiles and of course your website.
You can also create a link that will take the customer directly to your GMB profile and automatically populate a 5 star review, the customer can change it, but it certainly increases your chances that they won’t if they were happy with your service.
Click > here to use that handy tool.
Leave Us A Review!
To practice what I’m preaching I am going to ask if you’ve found this article helpful please head on over to our Google Business page and leave us a review. Click here.
We don’t have many and the team is committing to making a habit of asking in 2018, it’s never too late to start!
Lastly, be sure to respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative, and under no circumstances should you engage in a dispute on a public platform.
5. Optimize Your Website For Local Search.
In keeping with our promise of only sharing tips that are easily applied, we are going to focus on website optimization tactics that can be done with very little webmaster know how.
Your website is the hub of your business online and so we can’t stress enough how important it is to optimize your site to the fullest extent possible!
If you are more experienced and comfortable with making updates to your site then check out our complete Website Design Optimization article series and when your site is in a good place you can use our guide to increase your website traffic planner.
On-Page Local SEO Basics
- TITLE & META TAGS
- CREATE LOCATION SPECIFIC PAGES
- EMBED GOOGLE MAPS ON YOUR SITE
Title Tags / Meta Tags / URL
I won’t get into keyword research here as it’s on the cusp of tactics that some would deem to be too difficult. Keyword research is covered in the article we listed above. For the time being, we are going to recommend you select a keyphrase (more than one word) that is relevant to the page you are optimizing. Also, include your keyphrase + location.
Title Tag Example
- Expert Certified Accountants in NYC | Company Name
Meta Tag Example:
- Company Name has two offices in NYC, our team of certified accountants specializes in: Tax & Business Services, Assurance Services. Contact us for a free consultation.
Note: WordPress, Shopify, SquareSpace and Wix all have plugins/apps and DIY tools that you can use to easily edit these elements.
DO NOT: edit your URL’s unless you know how to properly do a 301 redirect or your page will result in a 404 Error – Page Not Found.
Avoid over optimizing, don’t do this for all your pages. Pick key landing pages and/or pages where it really is relevant for the location to be included if it will help your potential customer. For a complete guide on the topic of on-page search engine optimization have a look at our article: 13 Most Important On-Page Factors
As with your directory citations and Google Business listing, you want to make sure that your official business Name, Address and Phone Number is listed on your website. Typically you want to display this information both in the footer and on your contact page.
Create Location Specific Pages
If you’re not familiar with how to create a new page for your website, an alternative would be to create a blog post on an event or piece of news that would be relevant to your community. Optimize the body content, title, meta and URL accordingly.
For an individual page targetting a specific region, here are the key things to be aware of:
- Only create a page if you can provide quality content.
- The content must be unique vs a duplicate of an existing page with a few words changed.
- Feature the page in your site navigation.
- Do not do too many location specific pages, focus only on your top priority locations.
If you want to learn more about how to properly structure these types of pages, head on over to Search Engine Lands article on Local SEO Landing Pages, it’s an older article but the information is still on point.
Embed Your Google Maps Listing To Your Website Contact Page
This is important for your customer experience. They’ve made it this far, they’re on your contact page and they are looking to get in touch or visit your business in person.
You want it to be as seamless as possible for them to interact with your Google Maps listing and get directions. Follow this support article from Google on how to add this to your site in 6 easy steps.
Even the most tech-challenged business owner should be able to implement the majority of these local SEO tactics. In my opinion, if your business services a specific local area, city or region then local search engine optimization is the most important aspect for you to focus your marketing efforts on.
Thank you for reading and if you have questions about any of the information in this article or want to get help with your local SEO, digital marketing or website we would love to hear from you.
- Search Engine Land Search Statistics
- Forbes: 20 Online Reputation Statistics That Every Business Owner Needs To Know
- OptiLocal: 9 Tips to Boost Your Local SEO with Social Media – OptiLocal
- Search Engine People: 40 Unbelievable SEO Statistics You Need to Know
- Search Engine Land: Top 10 local search insights of 2017
- Junto: SEO Stats